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Enjoying SkyBar Kuala Lumpur On A Budget

It’s the eternal dilemma: you want to go to a swanky bar with great views and have a few drinks, but the travel budget just won’t cut it. What do you do? You nurse the cheapest drink on the menu and admire the views with the best of them, that’s what!

skybar kuala lumpur

Welcome to SkyBar Kuala Lumpur, on the 33rd floor of the Traders Hotel.

When Scott and I travel, particularly to big international cities, we like nothing better than to hunt out cool bars, particularly if they are rooftop bars or have a great view. Unfortunately, despite all of our research it seemed we couldn’t have both in Kuala Lumpur; we either had to take a rooftop bar with no view or an indoor bar with a fabulous one. We opted for the latter.

We spoke to the guy who worked on the front desk at our hostel and he agreed that of all the famous Kuala Lumpur bars, Sky Bar was definitely one of the best, partly because of the atmosphere and partly because of the view. He also suggested that because it is so expensive that we should have a few drinks at the hostel before we went (like we needed any persuasion!) and that we should put on our best clothes as there is a dress code (not a strict one, we discovered, as some girls had denim shorts on and some men wore t-shirts and shorts, although they had clearly been there since the daytime). So it was time to dig out one of the only outfits I possess in my backpack that I keep for “best” i.e. it hadn’t been sweated in and could actually pass as a smart evening outfit despite lack of an iron.

Malaysia: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I spent a total of almost seven weeks in Malaysia (yeah, it came as a surprise to me, too) and I miss it. A lot. It kind of crept up on me in a away I never expected and often left me surprised and intrigued by the people and places I found there. 

After the intensity of Hong Kong I wanted to relax somewhere for a few weeks and Malaysia just seemed to be the perfect fit, hence why I found myself calling Melaka, a small UNESCO city, my home for several of those seven weeks.

Now I have left I can look back on what were the highlights and the not-so-great elements about this diverse country. And I have to tell you, I struggled to find much that was bad, as you will see…

The Good

The people

Malaysia houses a diverse mix of Indian, Malay and Chinese cultures and I cannot think of one occasion where I met someone who wasn’t willing to help, give directions or offer a smile. The fact that so many different cultures and religions live here seems to make it much more tolerant of travellers and their own customs.

The food

When you take two of my favourite Asian cuisines (Chinese and Indian) and throw some spicy Malay fare into the mix, I was never going to be disappointed. I also discovered some interesting and unusual dishes that became my favourites, such as Mexican coffee bread, nyonya laksa and every type of steamed bun (pau) imaginable.

malaysia laksa

Hey, Hey, We’re The Monkeys

batu caves

When most people think of the Batu Caves in Malaysia, they think of the tall golden Hindu statue which guards the entrance. I think of monkeys.

I have always had a love (read fascination) of our primate counterparts. They always seem to be the most entertaining part of the zoo (mainly because a lot of the other animals, as cute as they may be, often don’t do a lot. Monkeys swing around, throw poo and generally cause a riot). I had read about monkeys hanging around (pardon the pun) at several Malaysia tourist sites, in particular the hugely famous Batu Caves – situated around half an hour outside of Kuala Lumpur city by train – and was excited to see these cheeky little creatures up close with my own eyes. Hell, I thought, maybe one might even jump on my shoulder a la Ross and Marcel from Friends and I could strike a pose for the camera. (This actually did happen to me one time with a small green monkey at a zoo in Tenerife and it was less “picture postcard” than “scared out of my wits”, so maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all).

It was a hot day, a very hot day, and like all sane people I had waited until midday, the hottest part of the day, to arrive at the caves – only to discover I had to climb 272 steps to get inside them. Also, there were no monkeys in sight. Had I paid any money to enter, I would have been asking for it back right about then. But unlike most other tourist attractions in Malaysia, this one was actually free, so I had nothing to complain about. Like the trooper that I am, I set off up the steps, sweating and panting and thinking to myself that leggings had been a bad choice.

10 Things You Should Know Before Travelling to Vietnam

The facilities are good, use them

Before I got to Vietnam I had visions of squat toilets all over the country, like that of many other South East Asian destinations and so steeled myself for having to ‘hover’ on a regular basis.

This turned out to be a misconception and the only squat toilet I encountered was at a service station at the side of the road. Apart from this, the plumbing tends to work in much a similar way to Greece: don’t block the pipes by flushing the toilet paper down; instead use the bin provided and everything will be fine.

As with anywhere in Asia, arm yourself with plenty of tissues and antibacterial gel in case you’re caught short with no supplies. You may also be charged to use toilets if they are situated at popular tourist sites. Don’t be cheap and think you can get away with paying the minimum price unless you are male and are used to using public urinals. I made this mistake and was shown to an exposed toilet bowl with no door that could be seen from the street!

It WILL rain – there’s no best time to visit Vietnam

If you are travelling from one end of the country to the other, it will rain at some point during your trip. The seasons vary throughout the country and I encountered rain in both Hoi An and Hue. Even though it was still warm, the rain was heavy at times, but don’t let it dampen your fun.

Ponchos can be bought for a minimal price when you are there (the thinner plastic ones are good just for walking around whereas you should invest in the thicker, longer ones if you’re planning on riding motorbikes and cycles a lot).

Also, don’t bother packing an umbrella – it just adds to your baggage weight and even the lowest class of hotels tend to offer them free in the rooms. Note –  Make sure you return the umbrellas before you leave as you will be charged for them otherwise.

The trains never run on time

Once you’ve spent a few days in Vietnam you’ll realise that the Vietnamese are a laid-back people, who are never in a rush to get anywhere. This translates to their public transport system also.

Having used a few sleeper trains during my stay, it became custom to never expect to arrive at your destination at the intended time, even if you had set off within an hour of your departure time. Just go with the flow and be ready and alert to leave the train at your station when you arrive because they don’t hang around for long and you never know where you might end up if you have to stay on the train until the next stop.